‘They make a lot of money off those cats, you know.’ My aunt said to me one day, as we discussed my ragdoll cat, Moomin. When I responded that, in fact, they do not, this was something that my aunt couldn’t believe. ‘They charge £500 a cat!’ she retorted.
To a certain degree, I don’t blame her for making this assumption – £500 is a lot of money. With popular women’s publications like Grazia making claims that breeding your pets is a quick way to make some extra dosh, it’s not hard to see why people, like my aunt, would internalise this as fact. The truth of the matter is a little bit more complicated than getting fluffy knocked up and selling her offspring to whoever hands you a large pile of cash. I spoke to breeder, Margaret Lynch, about the actual cost of breeding:
So, how much does breeding cats actually cost?
If we’re just talking about basic overheads, to obtain a breeding quality queen (we’re talking about a female cat with no genetic issues, and who is of general breeding standards) they could cost anything between £700-1000.
Next, you have stud fees. Unneutered males are smelly, and generally don’t make great pets, but if you wanted your own stud he’d cost between £1000-2000, and would need to be housed separately from females – stud runs are a further £2000. The fees to hire a stud are between £200 and £500 – and if your female does not get pregnant, you may have to pay these again for a different stud.
As a breeder, to make sure everything is okay with your cats, and to tell you which patterns they’ll have, you’ll also have to pay for genetic testing. Each test will cost you £30.
To be a reputable breeder, you must also register with the GCCF, which will typically cost you about £41 for a litter of four, but will vary depending on the size of the litter.
Food for cats can cost up to £20 per month per cat, and kittens shouldn’t be leaving their mother until they’re at least 12 weeks old (so that’s at least £60 per kitten for food).
Don’t forget the other essentials like litter trays – each cat needs their own litter tray, and one spare. Litter for the tray can easily cost around £50 per month, depending on how many cats you have.
You will also need plenty of good quality cat furniture – this can easily total £500. Plus kittens/cats need toys which will cost about £10 a month. It is also advisable, as a responsible breeder to microchip your kittens, this will cost between £15-40 per cat.
Worming your kittens costs £10 per cat, and vaccinations are £35-£80 per kitten; reputable breeders will have two sets of vaccinations completed before the kittens leave for their new home.
Many people who breed also ‘show’ their cats, which is, in a way, essential if you want to build up a reputation as a good breeder. If you want to show your cat, fees per show per cat cost between £30-50, not including cage accessories like show whites (£20 per cat), and drapes (which can be up to £200).
What if something goes wrong?
In terms of vet bills, the sky’s the limit, especially if you have a bout of diarrhoea in a litter of kittens. If mum needs a caesarean section, that can be pretty costly, too, and is likely to even run into the thousands.
So, the bottom line is that breeding cats is an expensive thing to do. For most breeders, this equates to a very time consuming hobby. Not included in my list are little additions, such as time taken off work, and travel to studs, and shows. Regardless of what Grazia might have you believe, breeding is not an easy way to make some extra cash, and people do end up losing money from it. Added to which, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think all that cat hair makes a very nice accessory!